A Guide to being an RNIB volunteer

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I decided to write this piece because over the past few months my mum has been involved in volunteering for the RNIB since we found out my Grandfather has a serious eye condition that could eventually leave him blind. The RNIB has been a great help to him and my family and so I feel strongly about the cause and know how important volunteering is. One of the problems the institute face is that there are not enough volunteers to meet the need, simply because people think there is nothing for them to do, or choose the wrong type of volunteer work and give up fairly soon.

I felt an information leaflet informing new recruits about all the different types of volunteer work available at the RNIB would help them to decide which job to choose and thus encourage them to stay on longer. When writing this piece of text the aim was to inform. However as time went on I discovered a secondary purpose of persuade, as I am trying to make the opportunity sound appealing by telling the audience what being an RNIB volunteer entails. They need many different types of people because each job requires different skills.

So young people are particularly needed and so I decided my audience should be teenagers or students who are generally interested in volunteering or have chosen to volunteer at the RNIB as part of their compulsory community service with school or college. I chose a leaflet format that would be given to new volunteers or could even be picked up in a doctor’s surgery, chemist or a RNIB branch. Before I began my first draft, I studied materials produced by the institute; leaflets, booklets, posters, the Internet and the RNIB’s website.

The existing leaflets I found were nearly always formal and monotonous in style, and many teenagers commented on how they wouldn’t read these as they found them boring. It was these remarks that influenced the tone of my piece. As a whole it has an informal, colloquial tone, which then adopts a more formal, serious tone when talking about serious issues, such as the specific requirements for each type of work.

The colloquial language, for example “you’ll be away” and “computer whiz kid. engages the reader and so persuades them to read on. To carry on this theme I generally use compound sentences and not complex sentences to prevent the piece sounding too formal. These are mainly declarative sentence as I am simply giving the audience information. The discourse structure is straightforward; the piece opens by highlighting the importance of volunteering and a basic introduction to volunteering follows. It then informs the reader about the different types of volunteer work with each type in a separate section.

The text is clearly organised using and a very logical order of information, explained in the opening, sub-headings in each section and bullet points, on the contents page, making the text more manageable. These are typical features of informative writing; this simply makes it easy for teenagers, my target audience, to read, as they don’t have to read big chunks of pure text. Other techniques I have used in an attempt to inform are graphological features in the style of emboldening to link important phrases together and make them stand out, such as, “helping to provide many vital services” and “remove the barriers they face. I have used small diagrams or pictures to help clarify to the reader what is written in the text and to add interest.

Colour is used to stand out and show the audience the leaflet is not a typical leaflet, thus convincing them to read it. Some slang is used such as “computer whiz kid” and most of the lexis is Anglo-Saxon simply because this would appeal to my chosen audience. When I wrote my first draft the focus seemed to be more on persuasive techniques, which made the piece’s primary purpose persuade, by complete accident, which I did not want.

So I changed the tone, added more detail and made it more relevant to students. I removed the imperative verb “Gain” and changed it to “You can gain” making the tone altogether more friendly and turned the piece’s purposes back into inform. I also felt my piece was not as personal and did not directly address the audience, as I would have liked it to. I moved from a remotely formal “go into your local branch to see what they have to offer. ”

To the informal “pop into your local branch and see what takes your fancy. Also to address the audience more personally I removed all the places where I had referred to the audience as “the volunteer” and changed it to the personal pronoun “you”. When doing this I also changed how I referred to the RNIB staff. I Personalised the staff by using the first person plural “we”, which gives an informal and relaxed feel. I even added some contractions such as “you’ll be away” which helps to keep the friendly tone. Feedback from my target audience was positive. They felt it had a good recruitment style and commented on how the learned lots of new things about the RNIB and volunteering.

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